Hundreds of cheering sailors send off ousted Navy commander fired for ‘creating panic’ over virus outbreak – The Sun

HUNDREDS of sailors cheered the commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt as he walked off the ship after being relieved of duty for sounding the alarm about coronavirus aboard the vessel.

The U.S. Navy ship's crew was seen cheering on Capt. Brett Crozier, who the acting Navy secretary said "undermined the chain of command" when he sent a letter to top Navy brass asking to remove sailors from the ship to prevent the virus from spreading.

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly told reporters on Thursday that he "lost confidence in [Crozier's] ability to lead that warship" after he sent the letter.

He said the letter was sent outside the chain of command while the Navy was already "fully responding."

Farwell Sir it's been a pleasure #WEARETRSTRONG #MYCO #TR

Crozier "was absolutely correct in raising" concerns, but "it was the way in which he did it" that "undermined" the Navy's efforts and "created a little bit of panic on the ship," Modly said.

He added that Crozier copying as many people as he did on the letter demonstrated "extremely poor judgment," and said: "He did not take care to ensure that it couldn't be leaked."

But despite this, Crozier was cheered for by hundreds as he left the USS Theodore Roosevelt on Thursday.

In videos posted online, one person can be heard shouting: "Now that's how you send off one of the greatest captains you ever had."

Hundreds of sailors chanted "Captain Crozier!" and a man calls him the "G.O.A.T.," or the "greatest of all time," and "a man of the people."

Crozier, in his letter to Navy leaders, said: “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die," he said. "If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our sailors."

He said that removing all but 10 percent of the ship's 5,000-person crew was a “necessary risk” in order to stop the spread of the virus.

The captain told bosses in Washington that action had to be taken immediately, and that as many crew should be taken off as possible to save lives — so they could be tested, isolated and treated if necessary.

“It will enable the carrier and air wing to get back underway as quickly as possible while ensuring the health and safety of our sailors,” Crozier wrote, adding that finding appropriate isolation for the crew “will require a political solution, but it is the right thing to do.”

The commander said he was deeply concerned that the bug couldn't be contained.

A Navy official previously told The Associated Press that Crozier alerted commanders on Sunday night of the increasing challenges of isolating the coronavirus among the crew.

The official said Crozier wanted more isolated housing and that Navy leadership is reviewing options to ensure their health and safety.

U.S. Pacific Fleet commander Adm. John Aquilino told reporters on Tuesday that the Navy was working to get as many sailors as possible on shore, while still maintaining a core crew to monitor the nuclear reactors and keep the ship running.

Aquilino said the pace may not be as fast as Crozier would like, but it would be done on a rotation, with sailors staying on shore in isolation for 14 days, then returning to the ship virus-free so that others can go ashore.

He said the Navy is doing what it can with what it has available and that at the time.

Officials said they were working with the government of Guam, a U.S. territory, to try to get hotel rooms that would allow for greater isolation.

Earlier this week, around 1,000 sailors had been taken off the ship.

Modly had told CNN efforts were underway to help the ship while ensuring that the Navy and the U.S. military continue to protect the country.

“This is a unique circumstance,” he said. “And we’re working through it and trying to maintain that proper balance to ensure that our friends and allies, and most importantly our foes and adversaries out there, understand that we are not standing down the watch.”

The USS Theodore Roosevelt, a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, is, like other Navy ships, vulnerable to infectious diseases spreading given its close quarters.

Enlisted sailors and officers are based in separate living quarters — however, they normally grab their food from crowded buffet lines and eat at tables joined end-to-end.

It's not a practical environment to maintain social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

The outbreak on the carrier may be the Navy’s most dramatic, but it tracks an accelerating upward trend across the military.

On Tuesday morning, the Department of Defense said the number of cases in the military reached 673, a jump of 104 from the day before and up from 174 a week ago.

Since March 20, the total has surged tenfold, even as the Pentagon has taken many steps to try to limit the spread, including halting nearly all movement of troops overseas.

The Pentagon has since ordered military leaders to stop publicly announcing coronavirus cases among military members in an effort to protect operational security at the U.S.'s global military installations.

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